|Born||29 Oct 1897|
|Died||1 May 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbasePaul Joseph Goebbels was the son of factory clerk Friedrich Goebbels in Rheydt, Germany. His family was Catholic in faith. With a metal brace around his deformed right leg, he was exempt from front line service during WW1, serving a desk job instead with a "Patriotic Help Unit" in his home town. He bitterly resented the fact that he could not serve in the military, thus after the war he made up a story that he had actually served in the war, and his disability with his right leg was due to a war wound. Around this time, while working as a bank clerk and a caller on the stock exchange, he became influenced by author Houston Stewart Chamberlain's anti-Semitic works. He earned a Ph.D. in literature and philosophy from the University of Heidelberg in 1921 and became a journalist. He attempted to become a published author, but that ambition never led to success; his novel did not get published until 1929, and none of the plays he wrote ever became staged. In 1924 he joined the Nazi Party in admiration of Hitler's leadership. In 1925, he was the editor to the Nazi newspaper "National-sozialistische Briefe". His ability to twist the truth into propaganda supporting the Nazi Party presented him with a unique position, and he quickly became one of the well-known figures in the party. In 1926, Hitler returned to politics after serving his prison sentence and began to put forth his anti-Semitic beliefs into his political agenda, which disappointed Goebbels extremely, as it showed that Hitler was no different than a common reactionary. "I no longer fully believe in Hitler", he noted in his diary. "That's the terrible thing: my inner support has been taken away." Hitler, however, recognized Goebbels' talents; in Apr 1926, Hitler and Goebbels met in Munich in southern Germany, where Hitler reaffirmed his position in Goebbels' mind. "I love him - He has thought through everything", Goebbels noted in his diary after the meeting. From this point on, his complete and total loyalty to Hitler was sealed.
ww2dbaseIn Oct 1926, Hitler made Goebbels the Gauleiter for Berlin, where he put his talents in propaganda to heavy use. Using Jewish police chief Bernhard Weiss as a target, he launched a full fledged propaganda campaign; when he was confronted by a friend that Weiss was a loyal German with an exemplary military record, Goebbels admitted that he had nothing against Weiss: the attacks were entirely for propaganda values, putting the Nazi Party constantly under the national spotlight. While he served as the Gauleiter of Berlin, he also became a great orator, playing public sentiments to further party support.
ww2dbaseIn 1931, with a Protestant ceremony, Goebbels married Magda Quandt, with whom he would later have six children. He was a known womanizer; his diaries revealed that he had many affairs both before and after the marriage.
ww2dbaseIn 1928, Goebbels was among the ten Nazi Party members to become elected to the Reichstag. In Apr 1930, he was appointed the head of Nazi Party's national propaganda organization by Hitler. Between 1930 and 1933, he successfully conducted a series of successful election campaigns for Hitler, choreographing Hitler's dramatic airplane tours of Germany and pioneering the use of radio and cinema for campaigning. On 30 Jan 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor of Germany, and Goebbels was given no office as Hitler's coalition government initially had only very few Nazi Party members; this changed on 13 Mar when Goebbels was appointed the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. On 1 May, he organized a massive parade on the "Day of National Labor"; this event was noted as the end of the German trade union movement. On 10 May, he supervised the burning of 20,000 books by Jewish or anti-Nazi authors. In this position, he also began to control all cultural aspects of German life, including art, music, literature, and mass media, causing Jewish artists and authors to emigrate out of Germany en mass. It was not long before all content of Germany's newspapers, books, novels, plays, and other mediums became subject to the supervision and review of his ministry. With a large budget, he was able to bride artists that cooperated with Nazi Party policies and threaten those who did not with violence. He argued that by controlling art, literature, and other forms of German culture, he brought about a spiritual mobilization of the German people. Some of his policies were an extension of Hitler's preferences; for example, the music of Paul Hindemith was banned by his ministry simply because Hitler did not like it.
ww2dbaseIn the late 1930s, Goebbels began to receive less attention from Hitler as war preparations began, and propaganda seemed to have lost its past importance. Perhaps to maintain his position in Hitler's inner circle, Goebbels, who at once thought systematic anti-Semitism was primitive, now embraced it. Still holding the position of the Gauleiter of Berlin, he began to implement policies that forced out Jewish businesses and banning Jewish citizens from using public transportation. "The Jews must get out of Germany, indeed out of Europe altogether", one entry in his diary dated Nov 1937 read. In Nov 1938, a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan, shot German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris, France, and Rath died from his wounds on 9 Nov. Goebbels, lying to Hitler noting that a nation-wide demonstration against Jews had already begun due to Rath's death, got Hitler's approval to launch a massive propaganda campaign against Jews which he knew would turn violent. The resulting Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") saw the death of somewhere between 90 and 200 deaths, while thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses damaged or destroyed. 30,000 Jews were also sent to concentration camps as the result of that night. "As was to be expected, the entire nation is in uproar", he wrote.
ww2dbaseIn 1937, Goebbels' began an affair with Czech actress L√≠da Baarov√°, and it was discovered by his wife Magda Goebbels in Oct 1938, who took the matter to Hitler. Hitler ordered Goebbels to end the affair, but Goebbels responded by handing a letter of resignation. Hitler rejected the request to resign. On 15 Oct, he attempted suicide but failed, angering Hitler, who ordered Heinrich Himmler to deport Baarov√° to Czechoslovakia. Although this event damaged the relationship between Hitler and Goebbels (though he remained one of the key figures in Hitler's inner circle until the end of the war), it did not deter Goebbels from womanizing.
ww2dbaseIn the years that led up to the European War, Goebbels was instrumental in using propaganda to turn the still peaceful German sentiment into one that would be ready for war. Prior to the annexation of Sudetenland, he used his channels to stir up sympathy for Sudeten Germans and hatred toward Czechoslovakians. A similar campaign was launched against the Polish people, where from May 1938 and on he continuously published fabricated stories about Polish atrocities against ethnic Germans in Poland and the Free City of Danzig. Once the war began in Sep 1939, Hitler became engrossed with military matters, giving much less speeches and public appearances, thus in a way Goebbels filled in the void. He viewed Hermann G√∂ring, in charge of the economy, as his main political enemy as he aimed to become the chief of all domestic matters, but by Feb 1943 changing political atmosphere following the major defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad forced the two to form an alliance to thwart a bid for power by Martin Bormann. On 18 Feb, he delivered a passionate "Total War" speech at the Sports Palace in Berlin, urging the people to devote themselves entirely to the German war effort, warning that a German defeat would mean the destruction of western civilization at the hands of Jews and communists. He was a supporter of sending Jews to concentration camps and ghettos to the east, and pushed for Jews in his jurisdiction, Berlin, to be sent first. "The world war is here", he wrote in a diary entry dated Dec 1941, "[T]he annihilation of Jewry must be the necessary consequence. The question is to be viewed without any sentimentality. We're not there to have sympathy with the Jews, but only sympathy with our own German people. If the German people has again now sacrificed around 160,000 dead in the eastern campaign, the originators of this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives." In other entries, he wrote that the Jews remaining in Berlin should be "carted off", "[i]t would be best to kill them altogether", and that Jews must be "liquidated" signifying that he had a good idea what happened to Jews after deportation to concentration camps.
ww2dbaseIn 1944, as situations grew worse on the home front in Germany, Goebbels and Speer once again attempted to overthrow G√∂ring in terms of domestic matters. Hitler finally agreed with them in Jul 1944, granting Goebbels the title of Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War, thus in the final years of the war the home front in Germany was under the control of Goebbels, Speer, and Himmler; although Bormann remains a political enemy, he gave up the fight against Bormann some time in late 1944. During the failed July Plot attempt to overthrow Hitler's government, he was able to maintain an open line of communications with the Hitler, thus was able to convince the Berlin garrison commander Otto Ernst Remer to act against the conspirators. Near the end of the war, as German lines falling back toward its own borders, he continued to produce propaganda, trying to persuade the German people to keep fighting and keep producing as a victory was still possible. He said, in a speech,
ww2dbaseAs enemy troops neared Berlin, Goebbels was opposed to the notion that Hitler should abandon Berlin in order to establish another headquarters in Bavaria to continue the fight, arguing that the final battle should be fought in Berlin, and it likely have had influence on Hitler's decision to remain in Berlin. He made a proclamation to the people of Berlin on 23 Apr:
ww2dbaseTrue to his word, Goebbels moved his family into Hitler's bunker under the Chancellery. On 30 Apr 1945, Hitler committed suicide after leaving a will, which was witness by four people, one of them being Goebbels. In it, Hitler named Goebbels the Chancellor of Germany. The only action he performed in this new capacity was to order General Hans Krebs to deliver a letter to Russian General Vasily Chuikov in an attempt to negotiate a conditional surrender, hinting that Germany and Russia could possibly work together against the future threat from the Western Allies, but it was rejected. With all hopes lost, he decided to end his own life, which was against Hitler's orders. "It is a great pity that such a man is not with us any longer", he said. "For us, everything is lost now and the only way left for us is the one which Hitler chose. I shall follow his example." On 1 May, as German Vice Admiral Hans-Erich Vo√ü was leaving Berlin, he attempted to convince Goebbel to leave as well, which was rejected. "The captain must not leave his sinking ship", Goebbels responded, "I have thought about it all and decided to stay here. I have nowhere to go because with little children I will not be able to make it." At 2000 hours, he arranged for SS doctor Helmut Kunz to drug his children, orally, with morphine; after the children became unconscious, they were administered cyanide by Magda Goebbels and Hitler's doctor Stumpfegger. Some bruises were found on the body of his oldest child, Helga, indicating that she might not have died peacefully as intended. SS Oberscharfuehrer Rochus Misch, who was Adolf Hitler's bodyguard, courier, and telephone operator, was in Hitler's bunker during his final days, as he noted during a 2009 interview with BBC journalist Steven Rosenberg. The telephone and teletype machine operator recalled:
ww2dbaseShortly after, Goebbels and his wife walked up to the garden above the bunker where they killed themselves. Exact details were unknown, though it's likely that Magda Goebbels took a cyanide pill while Joseph Goebbels killed himself, possibly with aid from a SS trooper, with a gun. Their bodies were burned in a shell crater; due to the lack of gasoline, Goebbels' remains, with his metal leg brace and NSDAP badge only partially destroyed, were easily identifiable. The remains of the Goebbels family were cremated in 1970, and the ashes were thown into the Elbe.
ww2dbaseSources: BBC, the Fall of Berlin, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2006
- "Once more a red fire blows steeply upwards...the factory will do no more work for Herr Churchill... tomorrow morning Coventry will lie in smoke and ruins."
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬Ľ¬†1 Sep 1940
Joseph Goebbels Interactive Map
Joseph Goebbels Timeline
|29 Oct 1897¬†||Joseph Goebbels was born.|
|1 Nov 1926¬†||Joseph Goebbels was appointed the Nazi Party Gauleiter of Berlin, Germany.|
|18 May 1932¬†||Joseph Goebbels arrived in Berlin, Germany.|
|26 Aug 1932¬†||Joseph Goebbels arrived in Berlin, Germany.|
|11 Nov 1932¬†||Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary that Nazi Party debts were piling up, and the presses for Nazi Party publications were in danger of being stopped.|
|13 Mar 1933¬†||Joseph Goebbels was named the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, a cabinet-level position.|
|22 Oct 1939¬†||Joseph Goebbels publicly accused Winston Churchill of ordering the passenger liner Athenia attacked so that he could blame Germany and persuade the United States to join the Allies.|
|2 Nov 1939¬†||Joseph Goebbels visited ŇĀ√≥dŇļ, Poland.|
|23 Aug 1940¬†||German propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels launched a new campaign that stressed the British fighting spirit in an attempt to rally Germany behind the war effort.|
|12 May 1941¬†||Joseph Goebbels visited Adolf Hitler at Berghof in Berchtesgaden in southern Germany.|
|1 Aug 1941¬†||German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels fabricated a quote from US Secretary of War Henry Stimson suggesting that Stimson thought the British war situation was hopeless.|
|13 Dec 1941¬†||Goebbels wrote in his diary "The World War is here, the extermination of the Jews must be the necessary consequence."|
|20 Dec 1941¬†||Goebbels made the first radio broadcast appealing for winter clothing for troops on the Eastern Front.|
|24 Dec 1941¬†||Joseph Goebbels broadcasted a Christmas Eve message over radio, urging for Germans to follow the lead of Adolf Hitler and to work and fight for a German victory.|
|27 Mar 1942¬†||German propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary on this date, regarding the deportation of Jews, "a fairly barbaric process is utilized. Of the Jews themselves, not much remains".|
|31 Mar 1942¬†||Unhappy with the progress of the interior ministry, Hitler reassigned the task of providing housing to those displaced by Allied bombing to propaganda chief Goebbels.|
|2 May 1942¬†||Goebbels noted in his diary that the term "Baedecker attacks", named after a popular travel guide and used here to suggest that the German bombers targeted British cultural centers, should be banned by his propaganda ministry.|
|18 Feb 1943¬†||At the Berlin Sport Palace, Goebbels announced the implementation of total war in Germany, bringing women into the industrial war effort. In the same speech, he also called Jews "the root of evil in the world".|
|2 Mar 1943¬†||Joseph Goebbels' diary entry on this date noted that "we are now definitely pushing the Jews out of Berlin" and expressing that many Jews were still in hiding in the city that needed to be found and deported.|
|6 Mar 1943¬†||German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels called off a round of deportation of Jews from Berlin because of public protests at a Jewish home for the aged. He secretly ordered the deportations to resume after a few weeks when public sentiments would have eased off a little.|
|8 Mar 1943¬†||In Germany, over 1,000 non-Jewish wives of deported Jewish men continued to protest in Berlin. Propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels released 1,500 Jewish men to stabilize the situation.|
|11 Mar 1943¬†||Joseph Goebbels ordered the SS and Security Police to round up the 4,000 Berlin Jews who had escaped Operation Factory at the end of Feb 1943.|
|19 May 1943¬†||German propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels declared Berlin Judenfrei ("Free of Jews"). In truth, about 2,000 to 3,000 Jews were in hiding in Berlin, while another 18,000 Germans of mixed Jewish heritage were living in Berlin legally.|
|26 Jul 1943¬†||Joseph Goebbels traveled to Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany to coordinate some news regarding the capture of Benito Mussolini. In the evening, he noted in his diary the details of the devastation of Hamburg, Germany by Allied bombing.|
|10 Sep 1943¬†||Joseph Goebbels visited Adolf Hitler at Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany, noting that he and Adolf Hitler had a conversation about the possibility of negotiating peace with either the Western Allies or with the Soviet Union in order to focus on the other. At the urging of Goebbels, in order to prevent the damaged morale from fermenting subversive activities, Hitler gave a radio address to motivate the German people.|
|23 Sep 1943¬†||Joseph Goebbels visited Adolf Hitler at Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany. The two had dinner together, during which Adolf Hitler shared his belief that Winston Churchill would not be willing to consider peace offers coming from Germany.|
|25 Jul 1944¬†||In Berlin, Germany, Goebbels was designated the Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War.|
|16 Sep 1944¬†||A speech by Goebbels called for resistance by all Germans with utmost fanaticism.|
|6 Apr 1945¬†||Joseph Goebbels announced that a German victory was to come during this month and only Adolf Hitler knew the moment. He obtained this information from astrology.|
|19 Apr 1945¬†||Goebbels' speech for Hitler's birthday promised that Germany would ultimately prevail in the face of all misfortune and Allied strength.|
|22 Apr 1945¬†||Adolf Hitler invited Joseph Goebbels and the Goebbels family to accompany him in Hitler's bunker in Berlin, Germany.|
|1 May 1945¬†||Joseph Goebbels and his wife committed suicide in the garden of the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany after poisoning their six children with cyanide.|
|4 May 1945¬†||Hans Fritzsche was brought to the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany to identity the body of Joseph Goebbels.|
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944